It was expected this would be the day of Kyle Brady's departure. Instead, this morning's "passing camp" signaled Brady's return.
"Nothing has changed from what I said last month," head coach Jack Del Rio said of his remark during the May "passing camp" that the Jaguars were not in salary cap "jail" and that Brady would not be cut on June 2 in a salary cap move.
Following this morning's practice, Del Rio further downplayed the June drama fans had come to expect. "Not real active," Del Rio said when he was asked to what degree the Jaguars might participate in the June free agency market. "We'll be curious to see what happens and what players we think will be candidates to become Jaguars," he added.
Today marks the first day NFL teams may release a player and spread his salary cap hit over the next two seasons. Such a maneuver allows teams to rid themselves of bulky salary cap burdens without suffering an overwhelming hit this season.
In Brady's case, he is scheduled to be a $5.2 million hit on this year's cap. That figure is largely the product of a $3 million salary, which the Jaguars reportedly wanted to reduce. Brady hasn't said he won't accept a salary reduction, but he's clearly not overjoyed at the prospect.
"I've just got to go by what they said and what they've said is they're under (the cap) and if the season started today they'd carry me," Brady told reporters following practice.
"There are many scenarios and I've examined every one of them. Right now, I'm working under the assumption we have a contract and we're going to live by it. That's not the preferred option," Brady said of having to stick to the $5.2 million cap figure, "but if it must be done, it will."
Most of that is careful posturing for a summer negotiations most believe must produce a new agreement for Brady to remain with the Jaguars. Brady is open to negotiations, but he was careful to hold his ground on a day that marked the tight end's first practice with the team in this new era of Jaguars football. He had skipped the voluntary April mini-camp and the mandatory post-draft version, for which Brady was to be fined. Brady's absence at those first two mini-camps was seen as a protest of the team's request that he accept a paycut.
"You don't want to think you're building a foundation in vain," Brady said of practices he hopes won't be wasted.
"It's my job right now to focus on what's going on on this grass and to learn this playbook. From what I've seen of this offense, I run the same (pass) routes I've run all of my life. It's still the same game," Brady said when asked about his role in the Jaguars' newly-installed "West Coast offense."
Meanwhile, Del Rio was pleased with the turnout for today's voluntary session. Only veteran defensive ends Marco Coleman and Hugh Douglas were absent; Coleman was excused for a family commitment and Douglas to honeymoon.
"He said he got married," Del Rio said with a smile about a call from Douglas alerting the coach to his defensive end's absence from today's practice. Del Rio said Douglas and Coleman are expected to be in attendance for tomorrow's workout, the second of four this week.
The Jaguars will conduct four more practices next week, then three the following week.
"That last camp was slow-it-down teaching," Del Rio said of the May version. "This is more team emphasis and up-tempo."